One of the many morsels of motherly wisdom that my mother taught me over the years was how to create an impressive plate of cookies to give to family and friends at Christmas time. I always looked forward to this holiday tradition as a child and am now continuing it with my children.
My mother taught me that a great cookie plate takes planning. We started right after Thanksgiving thinking about our holiday treats. We would ask my father what he wanted (always Russian Tea Cakes and Sugar Cookies), browse through December issues of magazines for new ideas, and search through our recipe box for old favorites. After deciding on a variety of sweets that included different shapes, flavors, textures, and colors, we wrote all the names of the cookies on a steno pad. We then created a list of necessary ingredients, purchased these supplies over a few trips to the grocery store, and set aside a day or two of baking.
As an only child I was my mother's chief baking assistant. Once the cooking began, our biggest challenge was making sure my dad didn't eat all of our fresh-from-the-oven delicacies. As a batch of cookies was completed, we stored it in one of our holiday tins. We lined these containers with wax paper and placed them in our dining room which was the coldest room in the house. A day or two before Christmas, we would open up all the tins and place a sampling of home baked cookies on each plate. After wrapping the plates with plastic wrap and adorning them with a bow, we would deliver them to our neighbors and family members. Whatever cookies remained were placed in a tin to offer at my grandmother's on Christmas day.
This tradition of sharing holiday baking is one that I am passing on to my children. For Christmas 2010 we included lots of tried-and-true family favorites along with some new recipes. We completed our cookie baking today and will deliver full plates tomorrow. The cookie tins have been replaced with plastic containers, my cookie gifts are being delivered in a neighborhood in Texas instead of a rural town in Maryland, and I am now the mother instead of the child, but the tradition of giving plates of cookies for Christmas is the same. Merry Christmas!
Christmas Cookies 2010